Two cards – one birthday!

It’s coming up to my mum’s 90th birthday! Hard to believe – here are pictures of her when she and my sister visited us in September. We went for several walks of 5 km or more, and mum was fitter than I was!! (Though to be fair, it was only three months after my chemo had finished!!)

I’m going over on Wednesday, and we have a big family lunch on 11th at a restaurant. It’s her birthday on 12th May. I have a picture that I bought in Strasbourg for her present: it was going to be her Christmas present, but sending it became so complicated I decided to keep it for her birthday. It means I can buy a frame too. I’m there for almost a week, which will be lovely – I hope to maybe catch up with an old friend from school while I’m there too.

So today I sat down to make a card. The first one I made was this:

 

I used papers from a papercrafting magazine plus various Noz embellishments. I quite like it, but it’s a bit boring for a 90th birthday card. So I went a bit more OTT and created this one:

It’s a three-fold card (which is a bit difficult to photograph) so it’s already a bit more “special” than the first one. Here it is, standing upright:

and in the second fold there’s another butterfly hidden away:

I think this one is a bit more joyous, and appropriate for such a landmark birthday. What do you think?

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May pictures

Not sure what to blog about, but feeling I should write something, I delve back into my photo archives to see what I can find!

MAY 2010 – I used to do more walks when I had time between or after lessons. Here’s a little garden I found on a walk above Royat. Obviously a beautiful day! I really enjoyed these walks…I wonder why I don’t do so many now. Perhaps I’m too busy!

May 2010 was when I held George for the first time – our lovely cuddly George cat. He went missing almost three years ago, and although we have Jasper now, George is still very sadly missed. He was the most placid of cats, loving nothing more than a cuddle.

 

MAY 2011 – For a few years we had a Fete de Cheval here – it was, rather sadly, mostly a place where knackers came to buy old horses which were then taken to the abbatoir. It changed for a couple of years when our friends, who keep a livery stables and breeding stables took over the organisation, but that was too much work for them, so it stopped happening a few years ago. Here however is one of the animals that wasn’t a horse – there were some llamas one year!

MAY 2012 – The plant seller is out…I always buy my balcony plants from the same guy: he comes to the market in May/June but his plants are always good value and I’ve never had any complaints. The balcony is looking very sad at the moment, so I need to get out there and tidy it up. Because I’m working on Thursday mornings now I may have to ask Friend Cathy to buy my plants for me this year!

MAY 2013 –Here are Mr FD and our friend Louis, on the top of Mont Ventoux, having cycled up. I was the designated official photographer, but due to becoming too interested in the market in Bedouin, I very nearly missed their triumph! I drove up the mountain rather too hastily (there were hundreds of cyclists!) and caught up with the two of them no more than 3 km from the summit! Luckily I managed to get one action shot of them both, as well as this one.

!

MAY 2014 – A card made for my friend’s “Christian birthday” – I think it may have been one of my first “Celtic style” crosses, which are now one of my favourite things to draw.

MAY 2015 – I’m looking a bit blown about! This was taken when we went out for the day on our 30th wedding anniversary. We had a picnic and visited Mont Dore in the Auvergne. It was a lovely day out. I think this was taklen around Puy Marie, but I may be making that up!

MAY 2016 – an appropriate picture for today. Why, you may ask… Well, another blogger, Elizabeth, who used to live in France wrote:

In France we have a delightful custom of presenting our friends with a bunch, or even just a stem, of Lilies of the Valley.
It’s a custom that dates back to 1561, when the then King, Charles 1 received some lilies as a lucky charm. Each year he offered a bunch to the ladies of his court. So the tradition grew, and by 20th Century it was well established.
The flowers are given as a symbol of Spring. I think it is the one and only time that something is allowed to be sold without tax applying. Scouts and Guides will be in our town today, raising a little money by selling these beautifully perfumed flowers.
and mine are blooming in the garden, so I shall go and pick a few for our neighbour.
The photo was of some lily-of-the-valley that we’d been given by Michel across the road. Unfortunately they didn’t take, so we don’t have them any more.
MAY 2017 – One of my students was getting married, so I made him this card – very simply done with an embosser, and lots of little flowers cut out of scrap paper with my flower punch. The pearls were a bargain from Noz – of course!!
MAY 2018 – By now I was half way through my chemo, and had lost all my hair. Here I am in patriotic mode for the wedding of Harry and Meghan. I wouldn’t have bothered normally, but we’d been invited to Richard’s to watch the wedding on TV and to partake of lunch. I made a delicious but nt very attractive mlemon-and-elderflower cake
And May 2019? Well, it’s only 1st May. I’m sure there’ll be photos to share later on in the month…

What do I write about now?!

I’ve been so focussed on my 40 Acts journey every blog post, practically, has been about that.

What now?

Back to the mundanities of life in a small French village.

But things to look forward to this week:

  • not quite so much work – not quite an Easter break, but less to do. (though the less I do, the less I get paid!)
  • meal out on Friday with Louis and Odette
  • Friend Cathy arrives on Sunday or Monday – huzzah!
  • I should get my new bank card soon too.

I didn’t tell you I’d lost my bank card, did I? I used it on Saturday in the bank, and discovered on Sunday that it was missing. Not sure if I’d shoved it in my pocket and then pulled it out with my gloves somewhere outside, or whether I’d left it in the bank, I decided (after a panic attack and tears – this bloody hormonetherapy!) to cancel the card. Of course, on Tuesday evening (bank closed on Monday) I got a phone call saying I’d left my card in the bank!! But it’s too late, of course, as I’d cancelled it. So I’ve been without it for a week, and I’m not likely to get it for another few days. It’s been a pain as many shops in France don’t take cheques – luckily supermarkets do, so I’ve been able to get the food shopping, but I’ve had to plan my petrol buying more carefully, as the kiosks are only open at certain times. It has meant I haven’t impulse bought…but there’s a handbag I’m definitely considering!!

For those who might be interested I’ve created a new blog for our Church sermons. We’re hoping to post most of the weekly sermons on this site. Do go over if you’d like to read them. Oh Taste & See

This is Christ Church, Clermont Ferrand

The Easter procession: Lift High the Cross

40ACTS2019 :: 35, 36 :: I-Spy, Compassion…& Notre Dame

Firstly, I feel I need to say something about the tragedy in Paris. Not, thank goodness, a tragedy involving loss of life – although reports are that one firefighter has been seriously injured – but rather the tragedy of the fire blazing through Notre Dame last night

Suggestions are that the start of the fire might be linked to the restoration work going on – rather ironic, one can’t help feeling. I wonder what exactly : a faulty extension lead, a spark from a welder’s tool, a cigarette butt from a sneaky cigarette smoked behind a gargoyle… I ask myself if there is one workman (or many) who is thinking “Could it have been me that started it…?”

But the building is still standing – although the spire has collapsed – and Macron is pledging that it will be rebuilt. I hope that it is still structurally sound, and that at least some of the many treasures within have been saved. It looks as though the stained glass windows have mostly survived – the Rose window seemed to be still intact when shown on the news.

It is a tragedy, yes, but it could have been so much worse…

ACT 35: I-SPY

PROMPT: By now you’ve probably caught on – a startling amount of living generously is simply noticing people. We often only realise people are lonely when they actually tell us. But there are plenty of lonely people who never say a word. Today, put those people-watching skills to good use.

REFLECTION: Link here

ACTS: Green: Watch for lonely people this week. At church, look for those at the sidelines. At work, look for those who eat lunch alone.

Amber: Make a point of connecting with someone you know, but have avoided spending time with because they’re a bit socially awkward.

Red: Strike up a chat with someone you don’t know – at the bus stop or café maybe – who looks a little sad.

When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, ‘Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.’” (Luke 13:12 NIV)

 

For reasons I don’t need to go into 40 Acts was off the table yesterday. And possibly today too… I’m not sure how engaged I’m going to be able to be this last week, due to personal circumstances.

But I will try and bear it in mind for future reference AND I’m not excusing myself from acts of generosity, however small. (I did the washing up at work – over 20 cups & mugs needed washing!!)  It’s just that I might not be able to manage the big ones that 40 Acts is ramping up to.

 

ACT 36: COMPASSION

PROMPT: The word ‘compassion’ simply means coming alongside suffering – co-suffering with someone. That can sound a bit daunting, but when you think about it, what a gift to be able to offer someone your presence and the feeling that you’re with them.

REFLECTION: Link here

ACTS: Think of areas where you’ve suffered in the past, and find a way to share time with someone who’s suffering similarly today.

When I first opened this act on my email, I’m sure there were 3 options of Acts…Now there’s only one. How bizarre.

I suppose this is another time I use my “wiggle room” card, the one that says “I’ve already done this” or “I’m doing this”. We’re already supporting someone through the loss of her husband. Due to her dependency problems, it’s a bit of a hard slog, and there are times when, quite frankly, I could do without it. But there you go.

But there is also the Challenge (that I was sure was there earlier!) which is to commit to pray for those who are suffering – my boss has just lost her mother, my friend has lost her husband, other friends going through cancer treatment…I will continue to hold these people, and others, in the living, loving light that is God.

 

 

40ACTS2019 :: 34 :: ADOPT

34: ADOPT

PROMPT: Friendships across generations are vanishing – in the UK, libraries, pubs, youth centres and clubs are closing at a shocking rate, with 600 youth clubs shutting down over the last six years. Churches are some of the last places where generations meet. But do we make the most of that chance?

REFLECTION: Link here

ACTS: Green: Schedule a meet-up with someone from a different generation.

Amber: Schedule a monthly hang-out, and serve while you do – what can you do to help them?

Red: Find someone in your church (or anywhere) who you know, and decide to ‘adopt’ them. Take them under your wing, and make them a part of your life.

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood…” (John 1:14 MSG)

I don’t interact too well with young people – I become too much like a teacher! Teaching young people is fine, but being sociable with them is not me at all.

I don’t interact too well with old people either – well, if we’re being honest, I don’t interact too well with anyone for the first few months of knowing them. I’m a definite introvert and I know this!

This Challenge makes me feel squirmy and very uncomfortable (though, to be fair, it doesn’t require any monetary outlay from me, which is what I was complaining about yesterday!!) but I think I can see two ways to fulfil it. But, for full disclosure, they were on my mind to do anyway.

1) Angel is a young 11 year old girl at church. She “acolytes” for me when I take Eucharistic services. In all honesty, there’s not a huge amount of acolyting to do, but she has been very sweet, and I keep telling her that she is doing a great job helping me, and telling me what to do! I have a lovely mother-of-pearl cross that my brother and his now-deceased wife gave me a while back. It is very precious to me, but I don’t wear it very often. I felt called to give it to Angel on Easter Sunday as a gift, to say Thank You to her. (Act 10: Drop Everything) but I need to check with her mum tomorrow that she’s okay with me doing this – especially as I wouldn’t be giving something to her brother, Ebuka.

2) Just before she left to go to Rome, Caireen, our rector’s wife (he’s gone to Rome too!) introduced me to Rabab, a youngish woman from Syria. She is living and working in France, while her husband, who works for a French company in Syria, travels between the two countries. Caireen asked me if I could possibly make friends with Rabab, and help her to settle into life in Clermont. So – this minute, now, just done it!!!!- I’ve texted her to see if we can meet for coffee sometime. Not someone from a different generation (although she’s younger than I am!), but someone from a different culture. It won’t be easy: as I’ve said, I don’t “meet” people easily, but hopefully I’ll be able to do it!

 

40ACTS2019 :: 31 :: Better Threads

Hello everyone! Yesterday was a busy day, even though my last two students cancelled. One was a late cancellation, with no explanation, so I ought to charge them 50% of the lesson cost – it’s written on my bill! – but it didn’t really inconvenience me, and they’re good customers…So I might just let them off with a warning! The other was Valentin, who was recently in a car accident. The poor lad was quite seriously hurt, and now has a body brace to wear, which restricts his movement, and, of course, is struggling with the after shock and ongoing pain from the accident. He’s been too tired for his lesson the last three weeks – I’m not heartless enough to charge for these missed lessons! When I got home I cooked dinner (usually Mr FD on “Chicken Wednesday” but he had a job to do for M across the road, and I was home early enough) and then we watched the episode of “Line of Duty” that we had missed. Oh, that’s such a good series!! If you don’t watch it I recommend trying to find all the series on the i-player, or whatever.

Today I have a later start than usual on Thursday – so I’ve prepped dinner (Mr FD is doing the shopping) and now have time to write today’s 40 Acts blog post. I still have to track Pomme down to give her the pill – she has secreted herself somewhere and is keeping quiet. Sneaky cat…

But Pomme’s doing it right!

32: BETTER THREADS

PROMPT: Picture this: you’re looking at a cheap-as-chips shirt, wondering what on earth happened to make it that cheap, and before you know it, you’ve gone and bought it. It happens to most of us. But today, we’re getting thoughtful about our threads. What’s the history behind our clothes? And what makes ethical clothing generous?

REFLECTION: Link here

ACTS: Green: Make up a list of places you’re happy to shop for clothes, and places to avoid that aren’t ethically sound.

Amber: Do an inventory on your clothes. Sort through them and see how many are ethically dodgy. Take anything you don’t need to a charity shop.

Red: When you need something new, buy ethically instead, and get a new habit started.

“Be under obligation to no one – the only obligation you have is to love one another…” (Romans 13:8 GNT)

This is an Act that has come up in various guises in the last couple of years, I think – and it’s important. It’s not just clothes that we in the developed world want to see sold cheaply: food, clothes, anything really – we want it cheap and we close our eyes to the real cost to both other people AND to the environment.

I love a bit of Primark, me – I try to go into the shop when I’m in Liverpool. Mostly for tops, but I can sometimes strike lucky with trousers…And each time I go in there’s a niggling thought: who is paying (and how are they paying?!) so I can have such cheap clothes? And then I see a stripey top and that thought flies out of the window!

When we lived in the UK I was happy to shop in charity shops for clothes – and I still explore them (in addition to Primark !) – when I go back. But here in France they are much fewer – and a lot less clean! The only time I’ve ventured into one the musty smell really put me off browsing. The other problem is that any French clothes shops don’t seem to believe in “big ladies” – anything over size 14 is labelled “Big Sizes” and is spectacularly uninspiring, and if you need a 31″ inside leg (what’s that in cm?!) for trousers you can forget it! So if I find something nice and affordable that fits, I’ll snap it up without thinking about much else!!

However, these are all excuses. There ARE mail order shops, with a good choice of sizes and styles, which are ethical and deliver to France…But they are expensive. Yes, good quality but I will look at the price and think “I’m not paying that for a top!” But then, really, I need to consider: Do I need a top?  I tend to buy clothes on a whim – I see it, I like it, I can afford it, so I buy it. I don’t need it. Which is why I have a plethora of stripey tops!

So perhaps I need a different challenge – or I need to look more closely at the Red Challenge: WHEN you need something new… I need to think more closely about what I need, and not what I want. If I don’t buy that stripey top will I feel the loss? Probably not. I have at least 5 more similar ones in my wardrobe! So before buying something new, I will consider if it is needed…and where it comes from. And then where I’m going to buy it from.

And for anyone who’s interested, these are two mail order firms I’ve used who claim to be environmentally and ethically sound:

Nomads

Gudrun Sjoden

(and if they’d like to send me anything to try and review I’d be very happy to do so!!!) (😊) No, really…

 

And those are two garments that definitely should NOT have been bought!!

A weekend of Spirit filled celebration

So, as I have mentioned several times I went to Paris on Friday through to Sunday for the consecration of our (then) Bishop-Elect Mark Edington. It was a great weekend.

Friday morning was a little fraught – I hadn’t packed and wanted to leave at 9.00 to give myself time to drive to Vichy and relax for my 10.50 train. I found I needed to go to the chemist and Mr FD asked me to book the car in for a service, so I started to get flustered – Would I have enough time? Well, of course I did, and I arrived at Vichy with about 30 minutes to spare. This was fine, as it meant I wasn’t running or hurrying.

The journey was fine, and I found my way safely to the correct Metro station. I know the route better now, having taken it several times over the past couple of years, so there was no panic. Also, there were no time pressures, as I knew that we couldn’t start preparing the food until 3.00, and that gave me an hour to get to the Cathedral. Also, it didn’t matter if I was late.

People were arriving with lots of different kinds of food from their local area –  the Convocation has churches in several different countries, so there was a wide variety of food: Italian salami and parmesan, German sausage, Belgian chocolates, pretzels and dip and lots more! I had brought Salers cheese and Bleu d’Auvergne cheese, and Laurie from church, travelling separately, brought the St Nectaire. I also took a couple of jars of home made apple-and-marrow chutney to go with the Salers cheese. I set to, slicing baguette, smearing chutney, cutting cheese, and soon the platters of cheesy canapés were mounting up.

Don’t tell Laurie I’ve put this on the blog – it’s not a flattering photo of her. She’s much nicer looking!!

After about two hours of slicing, smearing, cutting etc the food was looking more and more delicious. This is just a small proportion of it all:

Meanwhile a rehearsal for the next day’s consecration was going on, so after we’d finished preparing the food, we wandered into the nave to watch proceedings.

Here is Mark trying on the cope, one of the gifts given to him by the Convocation, his family, friends and colleagues.

Then the party started! I was (as I’ve said in another post) a “responsible person” for one of the tables, so I couldn’t mingle quite as much as I might have wanted to, but it was still fun. Gifts were given to Pierre, our departing Bishop, and to Mark. Tears were shed, speeches were given, champagne was drunk, and work well done was celebrated. I managed to eat a lot of food and even shushed a Bishop of the CofE who wouldn’t stop talking during the speeches!! The Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, was there, and several people asked him for selfies, but I came over all British and shy, so I just had a brief, rather shouted conversation wityh him (he was standing quite close to the very good but rather noisy music group)

Then Gaelle, from Emmanuel Church, Geneva, and I headed back with our hosts to the beautiful apartment where we were staying. We had another couple of glasses of wine before heading to bed.

This is the view of the Eiffel Tower from Nancy and Neil’s apartment:

A-may-zing!

The consecration service was at 11.00 so I stayed in the apartment and read for a while, until it was time to walk along the banks of the Seine to the Cathedral

Looking back to the Eiffel Tower, with the Russian Orthodox cathedral in the foreground

I’m heading to that spire!

It was 10.00 by the time I got there and already the place was filling up…

I was in the procession as a member of one of the committees (even though I'(d had to drop out) so we gathered in the courtyard ready for the beginning of the service. It was a splendid sight, all the Bishops in their beautiful clothes, and Mark dressed (at this stage) very simply in his white alb. Then we were off!

The ceremony was wonderful. There were several very moving moments – singing the Taizé chant “Venite  Sancte Spiritus” as the Bishops laid their hands on Mark, the moment when his wife, Judy, handed him his mitre (there seemed to be a very private moment pass between them) and when Pierre handed over the crozier to his successor. This crozier was commissioned by Pierre and has embedded in the staff a little cross made of a local wood for each church and mission in the Convocation; it is a very symbolic thing, and it was obviously an emotional moment for Pierre and for Mark.

There are more photos of the occasion if you follow this link

Afterwards the Cathedral catering staff laid on another fine spread of sandwiches and other goodies. It was termed “a light lunch” but it was, in fact, very generous! I took the opportunity to congratulate Mark, as he would be leaving that day to go to Munich – apparently it was something to do with not being in the same place as the Presiding Bishop (I think!)

By the time lunch was finished it was 3.00. I wasn’t sure what to do, so thought about visiting the Museum of Modern Art – it was free, so I didn’t feel bad that after about 30 minutes I thought “This is not impressing me, AND I’m tired!” So I went back to the apartment for a nap instead!!

I met up with Lee, Laurie and Mary-Ellen for a lovely dinner. I started with samosas

Then I had duck – but forgot about taking photos!! A café gourmande followed: a coffee with 3 little desserts: chocolate mousse, apple/raspberry crumble, strawberry fool. Yum!! I walked back to the apartment as it was a fairly warm night, and not too late.

Sunday morning was the day that Michael Curry was preaching in the Cathedral, so, guessing (rightly) that the church would be full, I got there early, having walked along the banks of the river again, passing this “living wall”

It was a great service, and the sermon was very good…

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, then we shall have peace on earth.

After the service there was another line to meet the PB – when it was my turn I said I’d been too British to ask for a selfie before – and he said “Well, we can’t have that!” and handed my phone to one of his entourage…

I had lunch with some people from Munich – I know them from Convention, and as I walked past them outside a restaurant, they asked me to join them. A beer and a goats’ cheese salad set me up nicely! Then it was a quick trot back to the apartment to pick up my bag and then hop on the Metro. I was at Bercy station way too early, but that was OK. I sat and read until my train left. Back to Vichy just after 9.00 and home in bed by 10.30.

A truly wonderful weekend. Now the hard work begins for Mark and for his wife!